Instituto Pro Bono was established in 2001 in São Paulo to expand access to justice in Brazil by encouraging and facilitating the provision of pro bono legal services and fostering a sense of social responsibility within the legal profession. Since its inception, Instituto Pro Bono has coordinated legal assistance to more than 500 Brazilian civil society organizations in São Paulo through its clearinghouse, which has 550 lawyers, 33 law firms and five corporate legal departments registered. It has also published several legal guides and manuals and organized numerous legal clinics staffed by volunteer lawyers and law students.
Although Brazil's 1988 constitution guarantees the provision of free legal assistance in criminal and civil cases for low-income individuals there is an insufficient supply of state-funded legal representation for the population in need. Estimates suggest that more than half of qualified recipients do not receive legal aid. This grant will support Instituto Pro Bono's efforts to advocate for the allowance of private lawyers to offer pro bono services in key states in Brazil. The practice is currently prohibited throughout Brazil by the Brazilian Bar Association.